Daredevil Cannot Change Venue from New York to Texas

Charles Soule is hitting the bullseye with the Daredevil/Punisher “Seventh Circle” limited series. The premise is simple: get a defendant to the airport alive so he can stand trial. The story is a classic tale of due process of law verse vigilantism.

The story is awesome; however, the legal justification to fly a New York defendant to Texas is flawed. “Seventh Circle” begins with a New York State defendant named Sergey Antonov being taken to the airport to be tried in Texas. New York State Prosecutor Matt Murdock told Antonov the change of venue was needed because “too many people here hate you.” Daredevil/Punisher, issue 1.

New York State would NOT transfer an accused person to be tried in Texas. New York law allows for a change of venue in order for a Defendant to have a fair trial to another county in New York State, not another state. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 230.20.

Daredevil/Punisher got it right that Matt Murdock could bring the motion to change the venue of the trial, because the State or the Defendant can bring a motion if there is good cause. Id. Proving good cause because “everyone hates” the Defendant is another matter.

The usual way to ensure a fair trial is with jury voir dire. People v. Boudin (App.Div. 1982) 457 N.Y.S.2d 302, 305. The purpose of asking the potential jurors questions is to root out prejudice. If there was a prospective juror who was a victim of organized crime, or someone who had immediate family in law enforcement, for the trial of a mob boss, those could be valid reasons to thank a juror for their service and excuse them.

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One case that had a change of venue had 76 news articles appear about the case in a 50-day period. People v. Boudin (App.Div. 1982) 457 N.Y.S.2d 302, 305-306. There were thirty-two front-page stories with more than 50 photos. Id. The local paper that featured the stories was ready by 2/3 of the households in that county. Id.

One Court explained how a tidal wave of press could justify a change of venue:

A criminal defendant has the right to a fair trial, and a trial that is not dominated by a “wave of public passion” that is not overwhelmed by press coverage and that is not conducted in a “carnival atmosphere.” Removal of an action pursuant to CPL 230.20 (2), or “change of venue” is a means of preventing this type of unfairness.

People v. Boss (App.Div. 1999) 701 N.Y.S.2d 342, 343-345, citing Irvin v Dowd, 366 US 717, 728, Murphy v Florida, 421 US 794, 798, and Sheppard v Maxwell, 384 US 333, 358.

“Seventh Circle” is silent on why “people hate” the Defendant, besides being evil and poisoning an opposing mob family’s Christmas dinner. Other cases that have found exceptional circumstances for a change of venue have included:

1) Repeated television broadcasts of lengthy interview of defendant in which he admitted the commission of the charged murder;

2) Widespread publication of court’s ruling on suppression motion with detailed rendition of testimony adduced at pretrial hearing;

3) Television broadcast of defendant’s re-enactment of the crime; and

4) Television broadcast of damaging interviews with defendant permitted by police.

Boudin, at * 305, citing Rideau v Louisiana, 373 U.S. 723, People v Marturano, 24 AD2d 733, People v Luedecke, 22 AD2d 636, and People v Martin, 19 NY2d 864.

It is extremely possible that a high profile organized crime case with extensive press coverage could warrant a transfer of venue. Moreover, we do not know if the fictional Court tried empanelling a jury, only to have it fail. Regardless, even if there was good cause, the State of New York would not have a case tried in Texas.

The change of venue aside, “Seventh Circle” is a fantastic adventure with Daredevil and Punisher. Matt Murdock is the prosecutor dedicated to a defendant having a fair trial. Frank Castle is the killing machine Hell bent on murdering a defendant. The artwork is great and the story solid. My compliments to the creative team for a great Daredevil/Punisher story.

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